With its mix of comedy and gore, Live Freaky! Die Freaky! is so wonderfully offensive that reviewers have not been at a loss for words to describe John Roecker’s repellently mesmerizing story of Charles Manson and the hideous, legendary murders of Sharon Tate and her companions that summer in LA in 1969. Or rather, make that Charles Hanson and Sharon Hate, as they’re called in this re-imagining of the Helter Skelter story as an X-rated musical-comedy. Or rather, it would be X-rated if all the roles weren’t played by claymation puppets. Nerve.com said it “suffers from a grotesquely inflated sense of its own transgressiveness,” Fangoria called it “puerile and lowest common denominator,” and a reviewer from Entertainment Insiders said, “I want this film to fail! I want the people involved in this film to be so overcome by remorse for their actions that they crawl on their knees up to the families of Charlie Manson’s victims and beg forgiveness for their cruel callous indifference. Fuck every one of you involved in this film.” Then last week Roecker got three pages of lavish praise and his mug on the cover of the LA Weekly. Go figure.
Naturally, Roecker once worked at World of Wonder, during which time, we hear, he offended almost everyone with his abrasive sense of humor. So we went to see him last night at Amoeba on Sunset Boulevard, where he showed up – 12-inch Manson puppet in hand – in the vinyl department to promote the release of the Live Freaky! Die Freaky! DVD. Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong, who voices and sings the role of Charlie in the movie, and some other rockers from the film, like the Lunachicks’ Theo Kogan, Rancid’s Tim Armstrong, and the Go-Gos’ Jane Wiedlin were not there, leaving Roecker to fend for himself against the very young punk fans who showed up with dyed black hair, carrying skateboards and guitars. Rodney Bingenheimer, the Mayor of the Sunset Strip, arrived and blessed the event. Roecker blessed him back by touching him with the Manson puppet. We took some pictures and felt old.
We’ve excerpted some scenes from the film for you. Just a taste: a little music, a little gay banter, a little blood. Look at the clip here. And, if you’re new to Earth and aren’t familiar with the actual events, here‘s what really happened that summer.